In our post about Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s retirement, John asked whether Kennedy’s decision means Democrats will hold the seat. Michael Barone’s answer is: not necessarily.
To be sure, the district strongly favors Democrats. It voted 65%-33% for Barack Obama in 2008 and 62%-36% for John Kerry in 2004. But until 1994, it was represented for three terms by Republican Ron Machtley. And in 1994, admittedly a great year for Republicans, Kevin Vigilante (brother of former National Review editor Richard Vigilante) ran a competitive race against Kennedy.
Moreover, Barone considers the district quite similar to the one across the state line that Barney Frank represents. Although Obama and Kerry carried Frank’s district by basically the same margins as they carried Kennedy’s, Scott Brown ran about even in Frank’s district.
Taking these and other considerations into account, Barone concludes that Kennedy’s district is “a possible pickup for Republicans.” Although “the odds seem unfavorable [they are] not as unfavorable as the odds looked for Scott Brown” in early January, two weeks before he defeated Martha Coakley.
UPDATE: I should add that the main Republican challenger in Kennedy’s district is state representative John Loughlin, who is said to be quite a viable candidate.
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